The AP winner
‘I STARTED taking photography seriously 12 years ago when I bought a Canon EOS 350D. I tried a bit of everything to find out what I might be good at.
‘I’ve been interested in steam engines for a long time, and have always felt they go perfectly with photography. I regularly visit heritage railways, but it wasn’t until I learned about photo charter companies that I learned how it would be possible to get images from better locations. They work by someone arranging a specific locomotive and set of goods with the railway – then they sell places and you take pot luck with the weather! This photograph was taken at an event with 30742 Charters last January, at the Churnet Valley Railway in Staffordshire. I drove up the night before and stayed in a hotel nearby. At 2am I woke up and looked out the window, and thought, “Wow!” I’ve been photographing steam engines for many years, but have only ever had one other day like this.
‘Access is excellent on a charter like this. We travel in the goods van of the train, stop, find a spot, then the train backs up and the driver waits for the leader to radio and say it’s OK for him to move. The locomotives never go any faster than 25mph, and it was probably doing about 15-20mph in this shot, so I had plenty of time to line up my shot.
‘It was important when exposing to keep detail in both the locomotive and the snow. I always shoot on manual, so I exposed for the snow without the locomotive in it, then opened up a stop or so. It was a balancing act of having sufficient depth of field to ensure the locomotive was sharp, a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action, and a low enough ISO to prevent noise.
‘I don’t often enter competitions as I never think my pictures are good enough, but this has certainly given me a boost. My daughter is always pushing me to further my photography, and I now have a collection of mounted prints, so I plan to do some craft fairs next year and push forward with that.’
Richard’s image of a steam locomotive was popular with all our judges Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 24-105mm at 32mm, 1/125sec at f/7.1, ISO 200